How to Choose the Right Type of Space Heater

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Choosing the right heater for your home can be pretty tricky. There are so many different types of heaters that it's easy to get confused about which does what.

To help you cut to the heart of the matter and find an option that works for you, here is a comparison of the three most popular types of space heaters: convection, radiant, and combination.

Convection Space Heater

In terms of mechanics, a convection space heater is the easiest to understand.  When the heater is turned on, it generates a great deal of heat which is then added to the air. 

Some convection space heaters use fans to distribute this air, while others do not, simply allowing the hot air to rise naturally.  Either way, the room will gradually heat up over time. 

This has the unique benefit of allowing the room to stay warm and cozy long after the heater has been turned off, at least as long as windows and doors aren't opened to allow the hot air to escape.

As you might expect, this heating process is effective in small rooms where there isn't much air to heat up, and significantly slower and less effective in larger rooms with a lot of air space.

Radiant Space Heater

To contrast with convection, radiation is a method of heat transfer that directly transports heat to objects.

The heat doesn't need to be transferred to the air and then to objects through contact, so radiation heats faster than convection.

On the other hand, because the air isn't being warmed, the heating effect of a radiant unit is going to be lost quickly once the unit is turned off.

Combination Space Heater

If you are looking for the best of both worlds, then you can get a combination space heater.

These units use radiant heat to rapidly make a room warmer, while simultaneously using convection to keep the room warm in the long run.

The big drawback is that combination space heaters often are less efficient than other options.

It takes significantly more energy to run both types of heating at once, and you will end up paying more for the added utility.

When to Choose a Convection Space Heater?

If you are looking for a heater that is efficient in the long run, then a convection heater is the best bet for you.

If you can plan out your day so that you can turn on the heater long before you need it, while also making sure to keep windows and doors closed to prevent airflow, then a convection heater can probably save you more money than the competition.

When to Choose a Radiant Space Heater?

On the other hand, if you are looking for a heater that can be used to instantly heat up a room, then you might want to go with a radiant unit.

These are best when you come home from a long day at work to a freezing house with no time to wait for a convection unit to slowly get the job done.

When to Choose a Combination Space Heater?

If you want the flexibility of the other two heaters and aren't too concerned with efficiency, then a combination unit is the right choice for you.

Even if you do end up seeing a spike in your utility bills, that increase could be a low price to pay for the significant flexibility that a combination space heater brings to the table.

Which Heater Is the Right Choice for You?

Before you commit to anything, you should do your research on a variety of different factors.

Even if you have decided on a certain kind of space heater, you will need to pick a specific brand and model.

Look into the price of the unit, efficiency, and how much you would expect to pay based on your past heating bills.

Also consider the size of the unit, which will dictate where it can be placed in your home and how easy it will be to move.

Furthermore, it's critical that you educate yourself on property safety protocols when using space heaters since improperly maintained space heaters can be very dangerous in certain conditions, and are one of the leading causes of home fires.

Top Pick

We recommend checking out the Vornado AVH10 Vortex Heater

This efficient but powerful heater is a New York Times top pick and an Amazon’s choice selection.  It has the latest safety & comfort features and is reasonably priced as well.